Matthew Munson: Looking forward to writing and learning in 2024

Matthew and Bryan

Happy New Year to you all. I hope the first week into 2024 hasn’t been all that painful, particularly if you’ve gone back to work this week.

Work has been calm and sensible for me, although I fully admit to waking up on Tuesday morning and struggling to adjust to the early starts after a fortnight of slower mornings and later nights. I might even have been grumpy for a couple of hours, but then I got into the swing of it and felt content once more that I had a lot to do that kept my mind active.

University doesn’t start back until the very beginning of February, and I find myself looking forward to it. I’m only doing one module this semester as a part-time student, and it’s one I’m quite intrigued by – poetry. I say “intrigued” because I’ve never considered myself much of a fan or a good writer of poetry. A friend bought me a couple of books of poetry for Christmas once, and I loved them; one was focused entirely on comedic poetry, and one was more serious works. I actually enjoyed them, and still have them on my bookshelf now twenty years later.

But it never really occurred to me to go out and buy lots of other books on the subject, nor take part in writing and / or performing poetry. There’s quite an active poetry scene in Thanet, I realise, and friends whose opinions I value enjoy going to these events.

I think when I start my module, I will push myself and try out some of these poetry events locally, just to get a feel for what poems sound like when read aloud to an audience – the cadence can sometimes sound so different when you hear the author reading it in their own style.

I don’t know if I’ll be any good at this module, but I won’t shy away from taking an active part. The reason I started this course was to become a better writer, and by broadening my horizons, I hope to succeed.

I was delighted this week to get some feedback on a piece of coursework I handed in. One of the positives of my course is that it’s all coursework; I don’t have to sit any exams. I don’t have any particular fear of exams, but it’s been twenty-five years or so since I’ve had to sit a proper exam. I’d need a lot of practice before sitting one now at the tender age of 42, so the fact I don’t – and can take my time over pieces of coursework – was certainly appealing.

Each of the two modules I did last year required two written pieces of coursework – an essay and a creative portfolio of fictional work. Only one has been marked so far – the lecturers have a lot of coursework to mark – but the piece I’ve had back (my 2,500 short story) had a mark of 75%. I was rather pleased with that, as you might imagine, and felt rather proud of myself. Even my son said congratulations, which was lovely, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the other pieces of work; I like getting feedback as well to improve the quality of my writing, so if the lecturers can give me some pointers, that’ll be gratefully received.

We’re at the start of a new year now, and I’m not one for resolutions. If I’m going to do a new thing, I don’t ever feel compelled to start on a particular day, month, or year. I want to get started – hence my new university course, and a determination to lose some weight as well. I want to broaden my mind, not my waistline, so I started both new projects well before Christmas, and both are going in the right direction. I intend to finish the book I’m currently working on as well and see if it might be accepted by an agent and / or publisher (both would be lovely, thank you very much). I love to write in the science fiction and fantasy genres, which not every agent will accept – not will every publisher, but I couldn’t imagine writing anything else. I was hooked on Star Trek as a child, and consumed everything else I could find, from Quantum Leap to Babylon Five books. I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as an adult and found it hard to get through, purely due to the density of the prose. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right frame of mind at the time. Ever since I watched the films, I keep meaning to re-read the books, but I’ve got so much else I want to read as well, that they’ve had to just join the queue.

I wonder if there are any more sci-fi / fantasy fans out there? I think I’ve convinced my son that those genres can be cool, but hopefully there’s more than just us in the area.